What I Expect from a Husband


An awful lot of complaints about the men in our lives start the same:

  • I expect my husband to pick up after himself.
  • I expect him to at least remember when our anniversary is!
  • I expect that when I cook, he does the dishes.
  • I did not expect that once we married, he would kiss me only when he’s looking for sex.
  • And I did not expect he would make such a fuss about visiting my family.
  • I expect him to make a decent living.
  • I don’t expect a lot, but is it unreasonable to expect he’ll watch the kids on those rare nights when I go out?

Newlyweds and long-time marrieds both want to know, “What should I expect from my guy?”
And I answer, “Expect love.”
That line can be hard to get your head around, because it is so easy to launch into something like this: “If he loved me, he would pick up after himself.”
Not true.
Marriage is like a buffet. In a marriage, you should expect love. At a buffet, you should expect food.
At most buffets, if you are expecting food, you will be thrilled. There will be lots of it, and you are welcome to as much of it as you like. Some of it will be delicious. Some will be gorgeous. Some will whet your appetite. Some will fill your stomach. And it may come with a jazz quartet or a mariachi band or butter in the shape of a swan.
If you expect the carved watermelons your best friend described from the midnight buffet on her cruise, you will be disappointed. Most buffets don’t have them.
If you expect ham or bacon, you may be so disappointed that you miss out on the exquisite potato pancakes or the lox.
If you just can’t wait for those Austrian layer cakes from your sister’s buffet, you may skip right over the great the fantastic pastitsio at the Greek buffet to save room. What a shame!
My favorite buffet is the one at Old Sturbridge Village, but I would be miserably disappointed expecting anything like their wonderful chicken pot pie at a jazz brunch buffet in New Orleans.
When you head out to a buffet, expect food. Let the rest of the details surprise you. Don’t ruin the experience by comparing it to the highlights of another buffet.
And when you marry, forget what you know about other marriages. It will only get in the way of having a really great experience. Expect love. Let the rest of the details surprise you.

About the author

Patty Newbold

I am a widow who got it right the second time. I have been sharing here since February 14, 2006 what I learned from that experience and from positive psychology, marriage research, and my training as a marriage educator.


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  • Patty,
    I truly believe that God brought me to this site, because I am soon to be married (in just 2 weeks) and what you have here is the most wise advice I feel like I could ever read before I get married. Thank God I did come across your site, because I want to be the best wife I can be. I want to minimize the mistakes that I make…for example, having too high expectations, or expecting my husband to meet my needs. I know I need to go to God to meet my needs, and nobody else. But I know my human nature can get in the way sometimes, and to be quite honest, that scares me a little.
    I know that my husband-to-be is “The One”….and yet for some reason tonight, I started thinking to myself….”Oh my God…what if I screw up? What if I don’t have enough forgiveness in me? What if he doesn’t have enough forgiveness in him?”
    I just don’t want him to wake up one day and ask himself, “What the hell did I do?” (in regards to marrying me)
    I know I’m a great catch on the whole, but obviously I have insecurities. I have fears that I won’t be good enough, or that he won’t be able to overlook faults I have (even if they are minor). And fears that I won’t make the right choices. Oh, how badly I want to make ALL the right choices!! Deep down, I know that is unrealistic of me. But do you have any advice as to how to overcome fears about not being good enough, or overcoming insecurities in a marriage relationship?
    Thanks. I know these are some loaded questions. But any of your wisdom (even if it is a few short sentences) would be appreciated. Sorry for the lengthy post.

  • Katie, congratulations on your upcoming wedding. Sounds like you believe you will need to change yourself or your husband to hold onto his love. That’s a bad strategy. He loves who you are. He chose who you are. Pay attention now to enjoying what he adds to your life, and let him know you appreciate it. What man could resist a woman who appreciates his abilities and his efforts, especially one he chose to marry? You do not need to earn his love, only to notice it and welcome it.

  • Thank you for your observations/advice! You are right, and I guess there is a little part of me that thinks I need to change….just because I think I am a tad more flawed than him. For example, his default reaction to everything is positivity, while practically IGNORING the negatives or potential stumbling blocks in any given situation. I admire this quality in him and I tell him often!
    I, on the other hand, tend to be a little bit more “realistic.” Yes, I am becoming aware that a bad attitude can sometimes come under the guise of being “realistic.” However, my default reaction to situations is not always assuming love. More often than not, I assume love, but sometimes I assume wrong. I feel like this is the point where I should assume love, but I don’t always do it automatically as my default reaction to things.
    He, on the other hand, always assumes love. He is not perfect but he is way better at automatically assuming love than me.
    Like you said though, I need to trust that he loves me for who I am, flaws and all, and get into the habit of appreciating him and assuming love in all circumstances! And I can’t beat myself up if I do not always do this perfectly.

  • None of us does this perfectly, Katie. But Assume Love is perfect for a realist. It does not mean ignore the negatives, the things that upset you. I call this pretending love. When you finally get to the negative you cannot ignore, it backfires. You will be furious, and you will want credt for all the stuff you overlooked.
    Assume Love is different. As a realist, you need more information, not false hope.
    You recognize that something your husband does upsets you, and you stop for a moment to ask yourself if there is something you are overlooking that would make it a lot less upsetting, maybe even a positive experience. So you Assume Love. You ask yourself, “IF I knew for absolute certain that this was the act of a man who loves me dearly right now (even though I am not sure of this in this moment), how would I explain it?”
    Until you ask this, your brain stays in upset mode: it narrows your thinking and it drives you to look for other things to be upset about. Then you tell it to calm down a moment and consider the possibility that your first take on the situation might not be the real one, because this is someone who promised to love you until he dies. Because you ask it to set aside the upset for a moment, you can suddenly remember more facts.
    For example, he just threw his sweatshirt on the floor. Feels like he never listens to what you ask of him. Then you ask yourself what might cause someone who loves you, respects you, and listens to you to throw a sweatshirt on the floor. And, just because you are now thinking about love instead of thinking about being taken advantage of, you remember hearing him yell outside right before he came in and notice he’s headed for the medicine cabinet after throwing that sweatshirt on the floor. Or you notice he’s run to the television to share in some great sports moment with someone on the phone. Or you see he’s picking up other dirty clothes and making a pile to wash.
    When assuming love lets you notice these other things, you are not being optimistic. You are being realistic. You see the first explanation you came to was not the real one. And you get a chance to respond with love, instead of confusing your husband with a hurt look or an angry word that belongs in your first story, not the real one.
    No one expects you will do this every time, but the more you do it, the more you will enjoy being married to this man.

  • Thanks! I am better understanding how this works! That makes sense, and it seems like something I could do more easily, especially when you put it that way. 🙂

  • If you want to be happy, you don’t critique the buffet. You fill your plate with French toast and sausage or anything else you can enjoy without cheese, and you savor each bite.
    If you can’t possibly be satisfied without real cheese, you get some cheese. If you can do it without violating your personal integrity or ticking off Shoney’s, you go find some and appreciate how fine Shoney’s offerings taste with a bit of great cheese. If that is not an option, you leave Shoney’s.
    But you don’t blame Shoney’s. You knew of your dislike of imitation cheese before you chose the buffet. Shoney’s did not. They hoped to please you with a variety of offerings you might like.

  • The comments are great, but what happens to the marriage when your partner steps outside of the marriage and have children and then comes back? Marriage is not as easy as just picking up food off a buffet line, it is two people with different history, ethics, beliefs, and/or rules of behavior that may not surface until after the i’dos. My advice is to be happy, but also be aware. Love yourself, respect your needs, and love your partner, but do not be nieve.

  • “Love yourself, respect your needs, and love your partner” — music to my ears, Alice. Husbands do not always respect our needs, so we must. Infidelity and children outside the marriage were huge breaches of your trust. They call for new rules, new rituals, new habits, new financial protections when he chooses to come back, Third Alternative solutions to conflicting needs and ethics, not punishments for failing to behave as expected or pretense that no harm was done. Thanks for pointing this out, Alice.

By Patty Newbold

Patty Newbold

I am a widow who got it right the second time. I have been sharing here since February 14, 2006 what I learned from that experience and from positive psychology, marriage research, and my training as a marriage educator.

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